Retired American pro rider Phil Gaimon has given his opinion on former team-mate André Cardoso’s positive test result for EPO from an out-of-competition test in June. Cardoso has lost his place on Trek-Segafredo’s Tour de France team as a result of the news.
Writing on his personal website, Gaimon says that he is “surprised and confused” by the Portuguese rider’s positive, and also says that “it feels like that makes it more of a crime to cheat in 2017, because it’s not so easy”.
Cardoso issued his own statement on Tuesday night after news of the positive test broke, asserting that he has not taken any banned substances. “I am fully aware that I will be presumed to be guilty, but it’s important to me to say that I am devastated by this news and I wanted to state that I have never taken any illegal substances.”
Cardoso has requested that his B sample is tested, as per the UCI’s anti-doping regulations.
Gaimon and Cardoso rode together on Garmin-Sharp in 2014 and then on Cannondale-Drapac in 2016, before Gaimon’s retirement at the end of 2016. Cardoso moved to Trek-Segafredo for 2017.
The two riders occasionally shared rooms together at races and trained together, with Gaimon writing: “We weren’t super close, but his cell number is in my phone, and if I ran into him a week ago, I’d have given him a big hug and been happy to see him.”
“To see him test positive, my world isn’t shaken exactly,” wrote Gaimon. “But I’m certainly surprised and confused. He seemed like another one of the guys, and doping wasn’t the culture on Slipstream [Garmin/Cannondale team owner] at all. We had fun, we trained hard, we raced our butts off, but drugs weren’t a part of the equation.”
“I can’t imagine that Andre was doping when we were teammates, and for some reason that makes me feel better.”
Gaimon then writes more generally on what could entice a rider to dope in 2017, saying of the pressure to get results and perform to the highest level: “With the Tour de France coming up, maybe that could put a guy over the edge?”
He later writes that “doping is different now. It’s not like they’d hand it to him on a bus like you might have read about in 1998”.
“Morally, it feels like that makes it more of a crime to cheat in 2017, because it’s not so easy. You’re risking your own career, your family, your sponsors, and your teammates.”
Gaimon concludes his piece: “I don’t know how to end this. I hope it is a false positive and he’s cleared somehow, but it doesn’t look good. I’m angry but I’m more confused and sad.”
Spaniard Haimar Zubeldia replaces Cardoso in Trek-Segafredo’s Tour team as they support general classification hope Alberto Contador. The 2017 Tour de France takes place from July 1-23.